Friday, June 27, 2008

A Letter to Holly

I do not know you, but I can't stop thinking about you and wondering what you're going through. All I know of you, is that you shared with a friend of yours, that you were thinking about becoming an atheist. I have been praying for you and feel led to share with you the things that God is speaking to me.

I have to confess my initial reaction to anyone who has anything untrue to say about my God. I feel like a little girl on the playground whose father has just been insulted. You know, "your dad is weird" or "my dad can beat up your dad" or worse "my mom can beat up your dad". A little girl bent on defending her father's name, ready to take on the meanest, baddest, bully in town, even if the bully is twice her size and has taken karate for 5 years.

That's just my initial reaction. Because when I talked to God about a girl who says she is ready to take a stand against Him and denounce His very existence (though that doesn't make Him go away), He softened my heart toward you.

The fact that you are considering taking on the title of "atheist" is a sign that you are searching. I want to encourage you. Not to become an atheist, but to continue searching. It is God Himself who created in you the longing that makes you search for something bigger than this life.

"He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the hearts of men; yet they cannot fathom what God has done from beginning to end." Ecclesiastes 3:11

He did create you. Psalm 139:13 says, "For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother's womb." You were created. You are not here by some cosmic accident. You were designed. You were made to have a relationship with your creator and He built that longing right in to your heart.

At church, Sunday, our pastor was talking about a few lessons he's learned in life. One of them was that God doesn't have to prove Himself to us. The truth is, He's already given proof of His existence (For since the creation of the world God's invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse." Romans 1:20), and proven His love for us ("But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us." Romans 5:8).

I want to urge you to seek Him. Don't test Him. He doesn't owe you any answers. If you need to be able to make sense of Him in order to believe in Him, then don't bother. He says in Isaiah 55:8-9 , "For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the LORD. As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts." I believe in God. I believe that He is holy, just, and perfect. I believe that He is compassionate, and loving. I believe that the Bible is His word and that He does not lie. And there are things that He does, things that He allows, that I will never understand. These things I can't make sense of, do not change who He is. I believe Isaiah 55:8-9.

So, sit down with His word ask Him to reveal Himself to you. He wants to. That's why He wrote the book.

"And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him." Hebrews 11:6

"The God who made the world and everything in it is the Lord of heaven and earth and does not live in temples built by hands. And he is not served by human hands, as if he needed anything, because he himself gives all men life and breath and everything else. From one man he made every nation of men, that they should inhabit the whole earth; and he determined the times set for them and the exact places where they should live. God did this so that men would seek him and perhaps reach out for him and find him, though he is not far from each one of us. 'For in him we live and move and have our being.' As some of your own poets have said, 'We are his offspring.' " Acts 17:24-28

Seek Him. He is.

I will keep praying for you, that you will seek Him and come to have a personal relationship with Jesus. And when I pray, I ask God to do what Elijah asked in 1 Kings 18:37 - "Answer me, O LORD, answer me, so these people will know that you, O LORD, are God, and that you are turning their hearts back again."

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Tye-Dying to Self

I was talking to my best friend about failure. Specifically, her failure. Well, something she felt was a failure. She is very hard on herself and was frustrated over something that she felt she should not be struggling with anymore. She felt that she should be different. She was feeling that because of things God is teaching her, she should have her emotions more under control.

But it struck me, or rather, God spoke to me, that her frustration was coming from a misunderstanding of putting off our old self, dying to self.

"For we know that our old self was crucified with him so that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves to sin" Romans 6:6

"You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires;" Ephesians 4:22

I believe that God, through the sacrifice of His Son, has made me new. But it's a new me. He's not making me like the woman down the street, or the woman who sits a few rows ahead of me in church. I'm me. He knit me together, He wants to make me new, not make me someone else.

There are things about us, that make us, well, us and I don't believe God intends to change that. My friend's heart will always be located on her sleeve, and her heart will always form thoughts more quickly than her brain. Of course, there are also things about us that are sin, and God definitely intends to change that!

"Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!" 2 Corinthians 5:17

So, here is the image I got of what it would look like to be a new creation. I pictured myself as an old white t-shirt. God has no desire to throw out the old t-shirt and buy a different one. He wants to make that old white t-shirt new. So, I surrender to His will and each twist and tie, and He adds color that I didn't have. And then the waiting, the rinsing the cleaning, washing, drying. A new creation is revealed as the ties are unwound. The old has gone, the new has come!

Thank you, God for taking the time to make me new. For not just writing me off.

God has made us each special. Unique. And yet all in His image. He made us with differences so that we can function as a body. Each one doing it's part. We shouldn't strive to be like anyone except Jesus.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Neil Diamond

I am not a Neil Diamond fan. I just don't care for his music. In fact, I find him annoying. I'm sure he's a great guy and very talented, but I find him annoying.

I have an MP3 player. Gary gave me his when he got an ipod from a friend. About a month and a half ago, he sat down at the computer and put all of my favorite music on my "new" MP3 player. Wasn't that nice of him?

Then I took it out with me to mow the lawn. And with each pass I made, I wondered, "why is everyone watching me from the window?"

And then I heard it. Coming to America. I just shook my head and as I turned the mower and headed back up toward the house, still shaking my head, I saw the grins on the faces and knew why they were watching! Very funny.

We all had a good laugh. Aidan thought this little prank was hilarious. It was fun to see that even the kids were having fun with this.

I still don't like Neil Diamond.

A few days ago, I was listening to my MP3 player upstairs while I was cleaning. And there he was again, my friend Neil. I laughed to myself and kept cleaning.

Would you like to know why I still have Neil Diamond on my MP3 player? It's not because I don't know how to delete songs. I haven't tried but I'm pretty good at figuring out how things work. I'm certain I could do it if I tried.

It's because it's not a Neil Diamond song to me anymore, it's a reminder. A reminder that I have laughter and joy in my marriage, when not too long ago, I wouldn't have thought that was possible.

What satan intended for destruction, God worked for His good, for our good. And here we are, both committed to God, to each other, to this family. The world would have written our marriage off, but that would be because they don't add God into the equation. The world sees this: his mess + my mess = better off walking away, pick up what's left of yourself and start over somewhere else. But the world is deceived. Here's the true equation: his mess(confessed and forgiven by God) + my mess(confessed and forgiven by God) x 2 personal relationships with Jesus = 2 sinners, forgiven and able to forgive with an opportunity to walk/struggle through this life together with God, with love, with hope, and with laughter.

When I was tempted to fall for the deception that my marriage would be better if it was over, God gave me this verse:

Jesus looked at them and said, "With man this is impossible, but not with God; all things are possible with God." Mark 10:27

When everything I could see told me otherwise, I held on to that promise.

And here I am with laughter in my marriage. And Neil Diamond on my MP3 player. Who would have thought?

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

I Want a Metal Detector

One night last week, I was praying as I went to sleep. After just a few minutes I stopped. I realized that I had no idea what to pray. The things I was praying for seemed so superficial, so surface.

I feel like I've been wimpy in my prayers.

I had read in Acts where Peter sent everyone out of a room and knelt in prayer over the body of Tabitha. Then he told her to get up, and she did! That is the power of prayer! A 19 year old friend of my cousins was in a car accident. Her church was praying while doctors were losing her in the ER, and she stabalized. She did in fact pass away but because she stabalized they were able to save organs that saved the lives of others. A young girl from church was injured in a four-wheeler accident. Three friends of her family came into her room at the rehab center and prayed for her healing. When they were done she got up to go to the window to watch the sun set. Therapists were in disbelief when she came walking into therapy the next day instead of being wheeled.

So, what does this have to do with a metal detector? I want my prayers to go deeper. I don't want to just pray for the things I can see but for what is found down deep.

Romans 8:26-27
"In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weekness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groans that words cannot express. And he who searches our hearts, knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints in accordance with God's will."

That's the depth I want. I want desperately for my older brother to find peace in Christ. I have no idea what he's going through. The Spirit knows it all.

James 5:16 "Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective."

It's no accident that the same verse that speaks of the power of the prayer of a righteous man, also calls us to confess our sins. Sin stands in the way of our intamacy with God. Once we are saved our salvation is sealed. But future sin, if not addressed, will affect our relationship with our Father.

I want to pray like a metal detector, and find the hidden treasures that cannot be seen by my eyes surveying the surface. I also want to uncover the junk, to let God reveal to me the things I need to get rid of, let go of, to confess and turn from.

I want my prayers to be powerful and effective.

I want them to be a metal detector.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Camp and The Great Cow Game

Today was a great blessing.

Aidan went to camp Timber-lee this morning. His first camp experience and at the same camp I went to when I was a kid. A group from church was carpooling and I was going to have a neighbor watch Garrett and Rachel so that I could just go with Aly and Aidan.

"In his heart a man plans his course, but the Lord determines his steps" Proverbs 16:3

I had made my plans. I was looking forward to carpooling and visiting with friends.

And the Lord determined my steps. He threw my plans right out the window. My neighbor has 4 kids of her own and three of them had VBS every morning this week. When I found out, and informed her, that I would have to leave the house at 7:15 to meet my carpoolers, she surprisingly did not back out. But she smiled very sweetly and told me that she didn't want to tell me "no." So I said "no" for her and I hope she had a really nice morning with Wyatt while the girls were at church :o).

As I pondered the question "what is plan B?" I had a peace. I immediately felt that I couldn't view this as a disappointment but just that God had other ideas. I'd love to say that this is always my reaction to plans falling through, but that would be a lie.

This morning at 7:40, we all loaded into the van. We headed off with a full tank of gas (very expensive gas), 4 kids, 3 gatorades, 2 pages of mapquest directions, and 1 very excited new camper.

We said our safe trip prayer and put in Aly's SuperChick CD. And everything from that point on made me feel both young and old, and very, very grateful to God that He doesn't let me carry out every plan I make.

The kids played the great cow game. I played this "game" when I was younger, with my brothers and my Dad. I don't know who came up with the game but it's very simple. You count the cows you pass on your side of the car. If you pass a cemetery on your side, you lose all your cows. If you pass a church, you double your cows. (Who did come up with this game?)

As a kid we played it every time we drove up to my Dad's house in Wisconsin. There was a cemetery, I believe on the right side, as you pulled onto his street, so you knew when you started that the driver's side players would win. And yet, we kept playing.

Today the only cows we even saw were packed into a trailer that we passed on the highway.

And today, I was the grown-up, driving while my kids laughed about cows.

We pulled into the camp and it hit me that this was the trip I'd taken with my Mom driving, just a few (we'll call it a few) years ago. I was now the one who had to make sure the car had plenty of gas and follow the map directions. And it was my son, now, who sat in the back, anxious to get there.

We actually made it there just a few minutes before the carpool. The girls and boys played kickball with their counselors while parents chatted. And Aidan stood with his counselor while the girls and boys played kickball. Then we all got to climb into the hay-ride trailer to go with our campers to their cabin. We settled Aidan in and headed to the commons for muffins and coffee (well, pop actually). I was already seeing the blessing of having to drive myself and take all the kids, but at the commons I found out that the carpoolers were not staying for the meeting.

But we didn't have to leave because we drove ourselves. So, the kids ate while I got the "camp shpeal" (is that an actual word, and how do you spell it?) and then they offered a tour of the camp. The camp director took us and 2 other moms, down to the lakefront and then to the science center. It was just a quick tour, we didn't even go through the whole science building. But as we stood checking out all their turtles, one of the staff members came by to feed them and asked the kids if they wanted to help. And they did, of course. Even Rachel got to pick out some worms and drop them in. They had a blast. I had a blast.

We walked through Pine Bluff and past Maple Knoll. It was so fun to be seeing the cabins that I had stayed in. We also walked past the ampitheater. Which is where I sat for a bonfire one summer night and heard a fellow camper talk about waiting too long to talk to his grandpa about the Lord. His grandpa slipped into a coma just a few hours before he and his mom visited him at the hospital. He sat and talked to his grandpa but regretted that he was left unable to know if his grandpa accepted Christ, or even heard him at all. I remember lying on my bunk that night with the overwhelming realization that Jesus was more than Sunday school lessons and summer camp. God was very, very big. And being a Christian was about life, all of it. I had asked Jesus to be my Savior at the age of 5, but that was the night I asked Him to be my Lord.

God has perfect plans, so if mine have to fall through, that's more than okay with me.
Thank you God, for the gift of today.

6/14 - I have some new information...

It's spiel. Go ahead, check it out for yourself.

(Thanks Mom!)

Marking My Calender

Something happened today that really marks the beginning of a new era for me and my daughter, who will be turning 11 this summer.

Here's the story...

Aly was wearing her favorite shorts today. All day long she had to pull them up. It didn't seem odd to me until this evening as we were standing in line at the Subway inside Walmart. We had just bought her a new pair of shorts for camp in a week. We bought a size 8 because the ones she was wearing were 10's. Well, as she was admiring her new shorts at Subway, I noticed that the new shorts had an adjustable waist-band. You know, the kind with a button inside the waist-band so you can pull the elastic tighter or let it out.

Anyway, it dawned on me that they were the same style shorts just a different pattern/color. So, I did what any mother would do standing in line at Subway. I reached for the pants she was wearing and pulled at the waist to see if the waist-band was in need of an adjustment.

It turns out the elastic had come off the button, probably in the wash.

So, I adjusted it.

In line at Subway.

As I worked, Aly pleaded with me to stop and looked around to see if anyone, especially anyone she knew, was watching.

And then I adjusted the other side.

For the first time, I managed to completely embarrass my daughter in public. (Now, I may have given her plenty of reasons before this to be embarrassed by me in public, but this is the first time she has actually been embarrassed by me in public.)

And poor Aly has no idea that this is just the beginning.

Monday, June 9, 2008

"Let There Be Light, Let There Be Love...

Let There Be MUSIC!!!" But sadly, no accordion solo.

Okay, if you aren't an Andrew Peterson fan and you didn't see him play in Green Bay, then you are probably lost right now. What I'm trying to say is...

...I've added a play list to my blog!! I'm so excited.

I hope you enjoy. They are some of my all time favorite songs!

And as long as I'm talking about music, I should share with you a few places online where you can find my favorites if you want to check them out.

Andrew Peterson - if you know me at all, you know that he is my very, very favorite artist.

Alli Rogers - she is quickly becoming a favorite and you can check out her blog too if you want.

Andy Gullahorn - I was introduced to his music at an Andrew Peterson concert and I love it. He is also hilarious, and you know how I love to laugh.

Selah - I just recently found them although they've been around for 10 years. I feel I should mention that one of the members is Todd Smith. It is his wife Angie whose blog has so inspired me. They lost their daughter in April just 2 hours after her birth and Todd's sister just lost her 2 month old son to SIDS the end of May. I highly recommend checking out Angie's blog.

Well, I should be going now. I've left you with plenty to do and it's "Mug-shot Monday" here, so I'd better go get the camera.

Friday, June 6, 2008


I had the Today show on yesterday. I don't watch the show but I had turned on the t.v. to get weather updates during our tornado watch. Anyway, I happened to hear that they were going to take 2 audience members and give them a makeover. I didn't watch it but it got me thinking about makeovers.

People seem to love makeovers. I've seen enough to be able to picture the audience members all trying to get noticed for the sake of being chosen for a makeover. And they always treat the victim, I mean, volunteer, so sweetly. They shower them with compliments. Telling them how they have a really pretty face or a great smile, any number of things. What they really mean is "you have a feature or two that are actually nice but the rest of you is a mess so we're going to fix you." Why would they have chosen them for a makeover if they didn't see anything that needed to be made over?

Now I know that not everyone loves makeovers. I think there are plenty of people, myself included, who recognize the truth that despite all the kind words and gooey compliments, someone has looked you over and sees you as a "before" picture. No thank you, I'm not interested. I may very well be a "before" picture but let's not make a public statement about it.

But what about a real makeover? The kind that matters. The "you" that matters. Not a change in what we look like on the outside, but of who we are on the inside. God is the only one who can bring about such a makeover. Our best attempts without Him leave us looking good on the outside and being a fraud on the inside. Not the ideal "after" picture.

So, would audience members volunteer as quickly for a makeover of their heart, compliments of their Creator, as they would for a beauty makeover? Would people be jumping up and down and saying "God, here I am, find all my flaws so I can be new?" I'm guessing not as many.

So why is that? Oh, yeah, our sinful nature.

We would rather live a life of trying to hide our flaws, than to confess them and let God bring them into the light to free us from them. (I say "flaws" but of course we're talking about sin here, and sin is sin no matter what you call it.)

I have made the decision to stop peacefully existing with my sinful nature. We are now at war. I will battle it til my body lies in a grave, but battle I will. To confess my sin is to allow a "before" picture to be taken. To repent is to allow Jesus to create an "after" picture, because we just don't have a fighting chance unless we have the Spirit.

Psalm 139:23-24 "Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting."
(my life verse)

At some point, you may feel a nudge to just take a peek in the mirror and look for flaws. If you are ready to check for "flaws" you'll need to know what a "flaw" is. As I said, it is sin. L
et me direct you to Exodus 20:1-17, there you will find God's law. If you've broken any of them, you've sinned. I don't know if you'll ever let God make you over, but there's where to start if you're willing.

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

I Call This "Mmmmmm..."

Our first official "Tasty Tuesday"!

We started the summer off with the best chocolate chip cookies ever! Which is the recipe from the email that goes around every now and then about the Neiman-Marcus cookies. Do you know the one? Check it out at Snopes. The story is false but try the recipe, it's wonderful!!

Everyone chipped in to make the dough...

...and I think that it was...

...a success. Mmmmm...

Adventures in Babysitting

I am so excited about summer that you'd think it was me who just finished up a year of tests and quizzes. Months of quiet lines. Lines for lunch. Lines for the bathroom. Lines for recess, music class, gym class. Oh, the lines!

And open yard begging feet to run wild.

Well, anyway, I thought I'd share the letter I typed up today for my friends who bless me with a job. I gave it to them as a "let you in on what the summer holds" kind of note. Enjoy!


In an effort to become somewhat organized and to enjoy my summer as much as I know our children will, I have devised a plan.

Each day of the week has a theme. The themes will remain the same each week.

Mug-shot Monday: we will spend a little part of the day taking some pictures (I predict very, very silly pictures)

Tasty Tuesday: the kids will choose ahead of time a new/fun/favorite recipe for us all to bake/cook/concoct and taste. (We will also be sharing with you so plan your work-out schedule accordingly)

Whadawedo Wednesday: I could not come up with a catchy Wednesday theme so I settled on this. It is pronounced whad da we do? As in, the kids don’t know what they will be doing because it’s my day to surprise them. It may be anything from tie-dying shirts to a scavenger get the picture.

Theater Thursday: my plan is to get myself to the movie rental place on Wednesday nights to rent a new movie for us to watch. (If you ever have a movie your kids enjoy and that they would like to share with us, that will work too. I will also take suggestions and honor restrictions, although I think we are always pretty much on the same page.)

and finally

Foto-page Friday: when we will take those great mug-shots and put together a scrapbook page. My hope is that when everyone heads back to school in August they will each have a fun little memory book of their summer.

Thanks for sharing your kids with me!!


p.s. – those were the themes I told the kids to get them excited about coming, here’s the real list:

mop-my-floors monday

tackle-laundry tuesday

wipe-down wednesday (as in toilets, sinks, counters...)

thirty-dollars-buys-you-lunch thursday

and finally

fan-Robin-poolside-and-bring-her-drinks-and-bon-bons friday (non-alcoholic of course)

It’s going to be a great summer!!!

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

How Can It Be?

Garrett and Rachel are lounging around spending their last lazy morning without Aly and Aidan.

How can it be the last day of school already?

I started my day by sending a 1st grader and a 4th grader to the bus stop. At 3:05 today I will have a 2nd grader and a 5th grader. Or will they be nothing until August? No longer a 1st grader but not yet a 2nd grader? Officially passed on from the 4th grade but unable to enter 5th grade until school resumes?

No, I think they will be a 2nd grader and a 5th grader. Which makes Garrett a Kindergartner.

Wow! How can this be?

And so, today we begin our summer!!! We get to kick it off with a pizza party with friends and sleeping in least they'd better :o)

I really am looking forward to summer. Four kids in this house can be crazy and a bit chaotic but it's just, well, right. Something just feels right about the world when they are all home. Don't get me wrong, though, something feels right about them going off to school and the house being quiet, too! But that's because their absence is of a temporary nature. As nice as it is when the house is peacefully quiet, I thank God when it fills again with all the noises that come with raising four kids. I would take the noise times ten over not having them at all.

So, God, bless us this summer with lots of time. Time for family, for friends, for rest, and for play. Time for making memories and time for growing. But mostly, time for knowing more of You.